Botulism Outbreak at Tourist Hotspot Triggers Manslaughter Investigation


In the heart of Bordeaux’s bustling tourist quarter, a woman from Toronto suffered a grievous bout with botulism following the consumption of improperly preserved sardines served at the Tchin Tchin Wine Bar. Between September 4 and September 10, it has been determined that a minimum of 15 patrons suffered infections from the botulism bacteria, including a tragic fatality—a 32-year-old Parisian woman.

The botulism toxin, a product of a specific bacterial strain, commonly takes root in fermented, canned, or preserved foods that have been prepared improperly. Potential symptoms include drooping eyelids, respiratory failure, blurred vision, paralysis, and vomiting.

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Among the unfortunate diners inflicted by this debilitating disease were Toronto tourists Jubilee Pridham and Gabby Chartier. According to Lowell Sostomi, Pridham’s significant other, both women face a daunting path to full recovery, with Chartier fortunate to have received the necessary antitoxin much faster than her compatriot.

Regarding Pridham’s current status, Sostomi reported, “We’re viewing improvements, but they are small steps each day.” This chilling incident unraveled on September 9, marking a horrendous start to what was intended to be an exciting vacation through France and Spain for Pridham, Chartier, and Chartier’s mother.

In reference to the dinner at the wine bar, Sostomi recounted Pridham’s commentary on the ‘stinkiest fish dish’ they had eaten, noting that Pridham, a food and wine enthusiast, had eagerly looked forward to this European adventure.

The day following the meal, Pridham awoke with double vision and difficulty swallowing and breathing—the first ominous signs of botulism that rapidly escalated to a complete loss of speech, sight, and movement. Pridham, once lively manager at Toronto’s Piano Piano restaurant, now communicates through writing on a whiteboard, after a tenuous journey beginning with simple hand squeezes.

Seeing Pridham’s predicament, Sostomi maintains a pragmatic standpoint stating, “We’re just managing expectations. It’s slow and frustrating, but we’re staying positive and believe in her full recovery.”

To alleviate the financial burdens from this mishap, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched, garnering funds for Sostomi’s and her family’s travel costs, Airbnb expenses, and loss of wages due to absence from work.

Meanwhile, the wine bar has become the focus of a complaint for involuntary manslaughter, as reported by French newspaper Le Figaro. The owner confessed to discarding additional cans of sardines over concerns of their odor and sealing integrity. Although the establishment has not been mandated to shutter, authorities have prohibited any homemade servings until the ongoing inquiry concludes.

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